The Plague Upon Our House

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About a week and a half ago, Will started running a low-grade fever and was a little grumpy. He didn’t seem to have any other symptoms, so I gave him some Tylenol and kept an eye on it for a couple of days. Then he started coughing and sniffling and a couple of times he coughed so hard I thought he was going to throw up. Finally, I called his pediatrician and she had us come in, where she told us he had bilateral ear infections and croup. Sometimes you think you are being the cool, experienced mom who doesn’t call the doctor every time her kids sniffles. But really you are being a deadbeat mom who doesn’t call the doctor when her kid has an ear infection and croup. Whoops.

Shortly thereafter, Bridget started sniffling and struggling to breathe through her nose when nursing. I was worried about her catching what Will had, but she had no fever and no other symptoms so I mostly just salined and NoseFrieda-ed and sat in the bathroom with the hot shower running to help clear her out. However, things soon moved into her chest and she developed that barking seal cough. Hearing a tiny baby cough like that is pitiful.

We’d planned to take the kids to the aquarium Saturday morning and Will was very excited to “see bish!” I was nursing Bridget one last time before we packed it up and she launched into a coughing fit that she just could not seem to stop, gasping for breath, her red-rimmed eyes watering and bulging out. I called the pediatrician (even though I’ve called them approximately 73 times in the last two weeks) and they told me to bring Bridget right in. Poor Will- just kidding little man, we’re going to the doctor instead. Get excited!

The pediatrician was confident that Bridget had RSV, and told us to take her straight to the ER at the children’s hospital. (Mid-appointment moment of levity: As the doctor was examining Bridget and she was wailing, Will got super upset and slapped the doctor’s leg, shrieking, “NO HURT BRIDGIE!” While I would discourage him from hitting people, especially his doctor, it was adorable to see him “protecting” his little sister.)

My parents met us at the hospital to collect Will and kept him all weekend for us. We spent most of the day in the ER, where Bridget received a couple of albuterol treatments to no avail, and was then put on supplemental oxygen since her levels kept dropping below 90, the threshold for acceptable. Seeing your little one with tubes up her nose and wires dangling from her body is heartbreaking.

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Around dinnertime, her levels stabilized but we were admitted anyway because they require 24 hours of monitoring after receiving oxygen. Bridget was a champ, slept like a dream in the hospital despite the incessant checking of vitals, and made it all night without requiring supplemental oxygen. We still had to hang out all day Sunday though, and were finally discharged around dinner time. When her nurse unhooked all her wires and tubes and set her free, Bridget gave her a huge smile.

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I’m so grateful to have my little girl home and on the mend!

Everyone is still sniffly and congested, but we were confident we’d turned the corner and were wrapping up this sojourn to Sickville. Until we found Will covered in dried vomit in his crib this morning. Poor thing had no idea what happened. “Doodle [the dog] pooped in Will’s bed!” he told us. Um, no. But good guess. So we are apparently not out of the woods yet. Bridget’s baptism is this weekend, so I’m hoping and praying the plague decides to depart before then!

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Nursing Woes

Ironically, I am typing this one handed while girlfriend continues her all day binge nursing sesh. Holy growth spurt (I hope).

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When Bridget was born, I noticed right away that her upper lip didn’t flange out while nursing, but was tucked under. Will had done the same thing and when he was 8 months old, I realized he had lip and tongue ties. (Here’s a good summary if you’re not familiar.)

I had some cracking and pain with him in the first couple of months of nursing, but thought it was just start-up discomfort. Yeah….no. Some soreness may be normal but toe clenching pain when baby latches isn’t. Will also nursed for hours on end as a baby and I wonder now if he wasn’t compensating for a poor latch. When I realized he had lip and tongue ties, I took him to an ENT in Atlanta. The ENT confirmed the ties but wouldn’t release as an in-office procedure for an 8 month old; he only did it in-office on babies under 4-5 months. He said he would need to do it under general anaethesia  for a baby Will’s age. Um, no. I found a dentist who does the procedure in-office with a laser, but she wouldn’t use the laser on a baby under 18 months. Since Will had already figured out how to compensate, I decided to wait and do the laser at 18 months. Then we moved when he was 1 and it never happened.

When I noticed Bridget had the same lip-tucked-under latch, I wanted to get the ties released right away so I wouldn’t have to suffer through the months of pain, and so she wouldn’t be at risk for poor latch, orthodontic problems, or speech delays. The tongue tie causes it to feel like baby is biting down and chewing when she latches. Good times. When we took her into her pediatrician for her first visit at 2 or 3 days old, the pediatrician confirmed the ties and called her favorite ENT to ask her to get us in right away to release them. (I am so, so grateful for our pediatrician. She is all-around amazing, she has a focus on breastfeeding medicine, and her nurse practitioner is an IBCLC. So many doctors don’t take tongue tie seriously, or will tell patients that it will “stretch” over time, etc. But our doctor was insistent that she wanted to call the ENT herself to make sure they squeezed us in right away so that breastfeeding wouldn’t be jeopardized.)

We got into the ENT a couple of days later and she released both the lip and tongue and taught me the exercises I needed to do to help Bridget’s mouth heal correctly. Poor baby girl wailed during the procedure and so. much. blood. but immediately afterwards, she nursed like a champ and the pain was gone. Hallelujah! Bridget passed out on the drive home and slept for two hours. Unfortunately, when she woke up, she was in a lot of pain and raging. I could not get her to latch to save my life. She was screaming, so milk was letting down and she got some just from gumming but not real eating. After about two hours of frustrated screaming and thrashing, she fell back asleep. I felt terrible for her. Her pediatrician confirmed that it was okay to give her a small amount of Tylenol, which seemed to take the edge off the pain, but she still would not latch. That night she slept for 8 hours straight, and my attempts to wake her and get her to nurse were unsuccessful. She just clamped her mouth shut and ignored me. By the morning, I was hysterical because she hadn’t really eaten in 14 hours. That + one week postpartum hormones do not make for a happy cocktail, incidentally. My poor husband was subjected to multiple tearful tirades about how I broke the baby and I should have just left well enough alone and suffered through the latch pain, etc.

I called the pediatrician’s office back and they made me an appointment with Kathy, the lactation consultant. At our session, we tried a bunch of different strategies like bait and switch, “sandwiching,” different holds, etc. but Bridget was not having any of it. Eventually, Kathy suggested we try a nipple shield, promising she would help me get Bridget weaned off of it eventually. As soon as I put the shield on, Bridget latched and chowed down, letting out a huge burp and series of milk drunk hiccups when finished. I was so relieved that she’d had a good meal, I practically skipped out of there.

Happily, Bridget is nursing like a champ and gaining weight right on target. Less happily, she is enamored of the nipple shield and I haven’t had much luck getting her off of it. I try to get her to latch without it at most feedings (if she’s hangry or I’m engorged, it’s a waste of time to even try), and succeed once or twice a day. Both the pediatrician and the lactation consultant are unconcerned, and say she’ll get it, it just takes time, but they’re not the ones whose toddler is perpetually stealing said nipple shield and putting it in the dogs’ water bowl. Hypothetically. Anyway, we’ll just keep trying for now and we’ll see the lactation consultant again at her two month appointment.

In the meantime, I couldn’t be any more infatuated with this girl, and with seeing her big brother love on her. When he tells her, “Don’t cry Bridgie!” or “Night night Bridg, have a good nap!” my heart could explode.

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2016 Resolutions

I have no big New Year’s Eve plans, other than nursing a baby and chasing a toddler. We are planning to attend the vigil Mass tonight because, um, we’re going to the Restoration Hardware outlet tomorrow. (Listen, with two kids, it’s an all day affair. I can’t handle Mass and furniture shopping with a toddler in tow on the same day.)

I’m not super big on the whole New Year’s thing, but I do love the freshness of new beginnings and the chance to start over with a clean slate. Instead of making a couple of big resolutions for the entire year, I’m planning to make monthly goals for specific areas. Since the goals are shorter term, they’re more specific and it works better for me in terms of accountability.

For January

Spiritual: Pray the Angelus everyday at noon or as close to as possible.

Fitness: Start running again and run at least 3x per week. (I have to wait until my 6 week postpartum visit on the 14th to get started on this one.)

I miss running so much. I simultaneously can.not.wait. to start running again and yet dread that first painful, slow, sad run after baby. After Will, I couldn’t run more than a mile without a walk break at first and I was convinced my long distance running days were over for good and that I’d be lucky to run a 5k. But then, when he was about 3 months old, things clicked and I ran a half marathon when he was 4.5 months. It was slooooow but I did it. I need to keep repeating this story to myself a couple of weeks from now when I get out there and run. Or “run” as the case may be.

This reminds me, I also need to motivate to pump and introduce Bridget to the bottle so I can get out to run in the first place. Ah, pumping. The things I’ll do to run.

Reading: Finish Gone With The Wind. Because I’m a melancholic, I do things like read Peachtree Road and Gone With The Wind while mourning the fact that I had to leave Atlanta. I know, it’s very healthy.

Family: Stop scrolling through my phone when the kids (especially Will!) are awake, unless I’m using it for a specific purpose or task.

Personal: Get started learning to use the DSLR correctly. Look up some tutorials on Pinterest and start reading.

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Life With Bridget

Almost 4 weeks in and we are starting to settle into a new routine with our sweet girl. Granted that routine involves embarrassing amounts of screen time for the toddler and a constant stream of snacks to keep him occupied, but I’m hopeful about phasing that out in January. And also hopeful that less screen time will mean the husband and I stop walking around humming Daniel Tiger songs, even in the absence of our children.

I realized pretty quickly that Bridget had tongue and lip ties, and we had them revised when she was a week old. Since then, we’ve had some difficulties with nursing/latching but we’re pushing through and seeing the lactation consultant again this week. (More on that later.)

Other than that, Bridget has been a sweet, easy-going baby so far. She doesn’t really cry unless she’s hungry, she cooed all the way through her first bath, she adores her rock n play (although she hates the swing), and she graciously tolerates her big brother’s not-so-gentle expressions of affection. She is just so sweet and snuggly, she makes me want to have 100 babies. She smiled at me for the first time yesterday and I melted. We are smitten with our girl!

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Bridget’s Birth Story, Part II 

I figured I better get on with finishing this birth story since Bridget is almost 3 weeks old and Theresa has shamed me by finishing Zelie’s birth story before they even left the hospital. (Well played though, because at least in the hospital you get a few moments of peace here and there, between the incessant checking of one’s blood pressure.)

So, where were we? We spent the night at my parents and Will decided to spend a little late night QT with his mama before the end of his only child tenure.

At 5:00, the alarm went off and I called the hospital as instructed to make sure there was a bed available. There was, so I ate a small bowl of cereal and had some coffee and we headed out. I cried the whole way to the hospital, out of a mixture of anxiety about the pain and whether or not I had made the right decision. When we got there, I calmed down some and we headed up to L & D where I filled out a bunch of paperwork and was then taken back to my room.

The nurses gave me my gown to get changed and started taking my vitals. The on call midwife from my practice arrived and asked, “So, why are we here today?” Um…

(I should add that the midwife who was on call was my least favorite so I was already not ecstatic that she was the one delivering my baby.)

Nervously I said, “Uh, so you can break my water?” She said that based on my chart, she wasn’t sure she was comfortable with that and she wanted to do an exam. Basically I was just shooting desperate, frantic looks at the husband at this point, not really sure what was going on. The midwife did the exam and said I was 1.5-2 cm dilated, 50% effaced, and baby was at station -3. At this point I had tears welling up in my eyes because I was exhausted and frustrated. I still don’t really understand how the baby could have moved back up and how I could be less dilated and less effaced than the day before (although with the latter two, I suppose there’s some estimating and judgment calls there). The midwife assured me that the baby can move back up and that based on what she was seeing, she did not want to break my water because the baby was too high and she was afraid that breaking my water would result in 24 hours of non-productive labor, followed by a C-section the following day. The communication was not great and I was increasingly teary because I had mentally and emotionally geared myself up for having the baby and now I didn’t know what was going on or going to happen.

Thankfully, the husband has zero qualms about getting assertive and demanding whatever information he needs, and he jumped in and said, “So, what are you telling us? Do we just pack up an go home, or what?” The midwife told us that was one option, at which point I openly burst into tears, which may have been a good thing because the midwife seemed to soften a little bit and try to be more communicative. She basically told us that our options were 1. go home and keep waiting, or 2. try Cervidil, a drug that thins your cervix and will jump start contractions a little bit. She was pretty adamant that breaking my water and Pitocin (which I emphatically did NOT want) were bad ideas for my situation, and she felt that doing either of those things gave us an excellent chance of ending up having a C-section the next day. She and the nurses left the room for a minute to give us a chance to talk and we decided to go with the Cervidil.

At around 8 am, she inserted the Cervidil and about 30 minutes later, I started having crampy sensations. I let the nurses know, they checked the monitor and said the contractions were coming every 3-5 minutes and started cheering and clapping. Based on the speed of Will’s labor, I was anticipating having this baby by lunchtime and getting to see Will and introduce him to his brother or sister after nap time. I’d made a list of intentions to offer up the contractions for, and was doing pretty well focusing on them during each contraction. By 9:30 or 10:00, the contractions were coming really fast on top of each other, with only 10 or 15 seconds between. They were painful although not terribly so, but the lack of a break in between was really wearing on me. After checking the fetal monitor, the midwife said the baby’s heart rate had dropped a bit and the contractions were just too fast so she was removing the Cervidil, but that if my body was truly in labor, the contractions would slow down but continue. The contractions did slow down to every 5-6 minutes, but they continued so we knew I was actually in labor.

The midwife checked me around 11:0o, and I was expecting her to say I was at 5 or 6 cm based on the 3 hours of hard contractions. Nope. 3 cm. Baby’s heart rate kept dropping after every contraction so they made me lay down and have an oxygen mask (not a fan). I felt like I was suffocating with that thing on my face, which yes, is kind of ironic. We went through several more hours of hard contractions that were too painful to talk through coming every few minutes, and at 2:30 the midwife checked me again. 4 cm. I was really beginning to get frustrated at this point. I know some people’s labor goes much longer but 6 hours of active, painful labor to make 2 cm of progress? I was not happy and starting to question whether or not this whole thing had been a mistake and it was all my fault for agreeing to an induction and I should have just cooled my jets and accepted that babies come when they want. This is not a helpful frame of mind when you’re in labor, fyi. The husband was amazing though; he was super encouraging and attentive the whole time and telling me what a great job I was doing. The next few hours were supremely uninteresting from a birth story perspective- lots of painful contractions, position changing, oxygen mask, etc. At about 5:30, the midwife checked me again and said I was “between 5 and 6 centimeters.” I started crying again, sobbing to the husband about how I just wanted my baby and this was never going to be over.

And then my water broke and the shit really hit the fan. The contraction which broke my water hurt, a lot. But not as much as the next one, in which I went from 5/6 to 9/10 in one huge, never ending contraction which I thought was actually killing me. I was sobbing and saying, “it hurts, it hurts” over and over. The next 20ish minutes are a blur of screaming and begging the midwife, the nurse, the husband to please “make it stop” which obviously was out of the question at that point. The complete loss of control at the very end is not, NOT my favorite part and I could really do without it. At one point I think I was trying to get up or something (I don’t know, it was a little crazy by then), and everyone was yelling at me to stay put because the baby was right there. I’m not sure if they told me to push or I just did it, trying to get the whole thing over with, but 2 pushes and out came baby (unlike the hour and half of pushing to get Will out). They handed her to the husband and he told me, “It’s a girl!” and put her on my chest. There is no relief like the end of labor. I held my sweet girl and kissed her and let her nurse a little. Eventually they took her to weigh and measure her, and I got stitched up (the tearing was not nearly was bad as with Will though, hallelujah).

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Since Bridget wasn’t born until 6:21 pm, Will didn’t get to come see her until the next morning. My parents took him to get a balloon for Bridget on the way over and he was very proud of the pink balloon he picked out.

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We are adjusting to life as a family of four and are smitten with our sweet little snuggle bug.

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Bridget’s Birth Story, Part I

Bridget’s due date was December 1st, but Will was born at 39 + 2 and everyone knows that second babies come earlier and faster (duh) so I was very prepared for a Thanksgiving baby. Actually, the weekend before Thanksgiving would have been ideal for the husband being at home as long as possible but I figured we’d certainly have a baby by Thanksgiving day. (I’m sure you can see where this is going…)

Thanksgiving came, no baby. All of Thanksgiving weekend passed, and still no baby.

Let me back up for a minute and revisit Will’s birth. The short version of the story is that my water broke at about 11 pm, and I had Will in my arms at 2 am. It was intense. When you tell people you had a 3 hour labor, they like to tell you how lucky you are. Yes, it is nice not to suffer through days of a prolonged labor. However, a 3 hour labor involves no gradual ramp up of intensity. It’s basically an all out sprint from the first moment. Also, being in transition in the car on the drive to the hospital is….not good. So, Will’s birth was kind of a scary and panicked experience for us.

Anyway, at my appointment on the Monday after Thanksgiving, (39 + 6), the midwife told me I was 2 cm dilated, 60 % effaced, and that baby was at -1. The husband and I were both really anxious about me going into labor at rush hour, leaving us with a 45 minute drive to the hospital, or about having to pack Will into the car in the middle of the night and have my parents meet us at the hospital to pick him up. She gave us the option of having my water broken Tuesday morning to get things moving since I’d be 40 weeks and I have a history of precipitous labor. Generally, I am of the leave-well-enough-alone school of thought when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth and I kind of think when you start interfering unnecessarily it creates a waterfall effect. However, we were both so anxious about the possibilities for disastrous times to go into labor that we decided to go for it. The midwife went ahead and called the hospital for us and scheduled us to arrive Tuesday morning at 6 am and the husband went into the office to tie up some loose ends.

Will was hanging out at my parents’ house during my appointment so I called them to let them know what was going on. My mom told me not to worry about Will, that they would keep him, so I went back to our house to wash the dirty laundry, take out the trash, grab our bags, and pack up the dogs to bring them to my parents’ house. The husband met me at my parents’ after work and we spent the night there so that we wouldn’t have to wake Will up at the crack of dawn. We put Will down at his usual bedtime and then went out to dinner just the two of us as a last date night before baby.

After dinner, we went to bed early. The husband passed out immediately and I laid there obsessing about whether or not we made the right decision, how much it was going to hurt, etc. I finally fell asleep and at about midnight I heard Will awake and calling for me. Whyyyyyyyy do they have a radar for when you really, really need some sleep? Anyway, I got him and brought him into bed with me and snuggled him until he fell back asleep. An hour and a half later, I successfully transferred him back into his own bed and managed to sleep for a few hours before the 5 am alarm.

(Will is waking from his nap, so this will be continued…)

It’s A….

Girl! 

Bridget Marie was born on Tuesday evening, weighing in at 7 lbs. 7 oz., and 21 inches long. 

She’s got lots of dark hair, and loves her Daddy. We are thrilled to have her earth side. Birth story coming soon! 🙂